If you picked the best Indian ODI side in the last 10 years, you would notice that there are some big gaps yet to be filled in the present side.
There have been quite a few who have missed out (Ganguly, Irfan, Zaheer, Yuvraj, Kaif, Joshi, Harbhajan, Kuruvilla), but some have played well only when things were going well, some have not had as much of an impact on a match, while a few others didn't last long. Not too many Class of 2000 players....though Yuvraj Singh has a chance. Of course, this theme is open to debate.
- Navjot Singh Sidhu- An opener who could walk into an Indian top order, not just for the purpose of opening in Tests, he has been the last quality opener to have played for the Indian team, until Sehwag made that position his own. He had the temperament to play a long innings and could massacre spin bowlers on his day. His fielding was never special, given his recurring injuries, but he put in a lot of effort to improve, which is why a graphic appeared on TV screens- "Jonty?"- when he made a dive.
- Virender Sehwag- The dynamic opener was never a regular at that position, but has now made it his own by consistent, and blistering innings. Often ridiculed for a lack of technique and a tendency to manufacture big shots once too often, he has repeatedly proven his critics wrong. He is a big-hitter, which the team was lacking at that time. His selection is even more valuable, when he can also bowl more than a few overs of off-spin to support his bowlers. Good fielder in close catching positions.
- Rahul Dravid- Once infamous for his slow scoring, and even dropped on those grounds, he has improved a lot since then. He rotates the strike well, finds the gaps, can defend well against the toughest of bowlers in tough conditions and now launch an attack in the final overs making most attacking batsmen look pedestrian.One of the better slip fielders, but certainly not a wicketkeeper!
- Sachin Tendulkar- Enough said, though he may be promoted to open when needed, but he's originally a Number 4, and bats there in Tests. Very good on the outfield, he has a very strong and accurate throw.
- Mohammed Azharuddin- Controversies not withstanding, he has been one of the team's most valuable ODI players of all time. He had enough strokes to be called a stylist and often made batting look like an art form. When he would attack, it would be an ominous situation for the bowling side. Even without the bat, he was valuable, being one of the best fielders in close catching positions. He knew when a catch was taken.
- Robin Singh- He did not play for a long time, but those were four eventful years. He and Ajay Jadeja formed a crucial partnership in the middle order, often pulling the team out of trouble. Though capable of hitting the big shots when the team needed them, he didn't get too many between wickets, but still did his job. A steady medium-pacer who offered the seamers good support and was often underbowled, he was also one of India's best ever fielders at point.
- Ajay Jadeja- He's not yet out of it. He would make up for lost time and runs in the middle overs by some hard hitting in the final overs. One just has to remember what he did to the Pakistanis in Bangalore. A tough man at his position, he too got the Indians out of trouble many times. He was also an effective fielder in run-saving positions. Maybe he still is.
- Nayan Mongia- Another one of the team's most controversial, but dependable players. He kept to the spinners very well, especially to Kumble. It is difficult to keep to Kumble, and many wicketkeepers, even his state team-mate, Rahul Dravid, knows it. He had good technique and fast moves, which made Kumble a better bowler than he was. Since he was dropped, Kumble has never had confidence in his keepers, though he has improved as a bowler. His batting was nothing special, but he could form crucial partnerships.
- Anil Kumble- Whenever the team needed a wicket, they threw the ball to Kumble and he didn't disappoint. He has been a key bowler for the team for a very long time and has always been an honest trier, despite not turning the ball much. He has often relied on pace and bounce of the wickets which made him very good at home, but he was not too bad away either. However, he has lacked support for a long time, particularly recently. He has improved his fielding, once a weakness, in the recent past.
- Javagal Srinath- The fastest bowler who has played for India cannot be left out. He has had to shoulder the burden of being a strike bowler for long, just like Kumble, but has had an eventful career. He has been effective in conditions suited for fast bowling, but has often disappointed on flat pitches. Even as he lost pace over the years, his accuracy improved and he introduced new variations in his bowling.
- Venkatesh Prasad- One of the more under-rated bowlers to have played for India, he has been a very good partner for Srinath and has done well in seaming conditions, particularly in England and South Africa. He could get a lot of bounce and seam movement, but lacked the pace. The last of a class of Indian players who did not have to field well, he took some good high catches at the boundary. Surely, he's better than the current Indian pace attack.